jamaicaJamaica is the third largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean Sea. The total land area of the island is about 11,000 km², with a mountainous topography surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. The climate is tropical, that is, hot and humid with about an annual rainfall of 1000 mm. Locations at higher altitude have temperate weather, but the country has been plagued by frequent hurricanes. The population was about 2.7 million people in 2011 and the capital is Kingston.  Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes and the parishes have three regions, namely Cornwall, Middlesex, and Surrey. Main economic sectors include agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing, and financial services. Transportation and agricultural aviation are also important.



The agriculture sector, together with forestry and fisheries, contributed 6 percent to the national GDP in 2009 and this sector employs about 20 percent of the population. Main commodities are sugar, bananas, coffee, cocoa, citrus, coconuts, yams, and vegetables, such as pumpkin,  cabbage, tomato and cucumber. Major groups include papaya, pineapple and watermelon; and poultry and goats are also reared. Sugar and bananas have been Jamaica’s largest agricultural export for many years.

The 2007 agriculture census shows about 346,000 hectares under production. The total number of farms is about 230,000, the average farm size being about one hectare. Almost 85 percent of the farms are less than five hectares. Interestingly commercial producers, who hold only 20 percent of the production units, represent 80 percent of the marketed output.


  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (January 2013)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson